Visiting Sanssouci Park & Palaces: All you need to know

Posted by
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Sanssouci Park is a majestic place. Literally. The Prussian kings ruled their formidable historic empire from the complex of palaces and manors located here. Over the past two decades the park, including the gardens and palaces, has been painstakingly restored to reflect its past glory. Here’s how to make the most of your time visiting Sanssouci Park.

Visiting Sanssouci Park: Click for everything you need to know about visiting this Prussian park, including the Sanssouci Palace, the New Palace, the Historic Windmill and more! I ever covered the best places to eat in Sanssouci park.

With three palaces and several other interesting historic structures, Sanssouci Park is the highlight of any visit to Potsdam, Germany. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you can easily take a full day (or even more!) to explore here. Most travelers only spend a few hours here because the city of Potsdam has so many other wonderful things to see and do, so you really have to prioritize to make the most of your precious time visiting Sanssouci Park. Hopefully, this guide will help you achieve just that.

This is another one of the “crib/cheat sheet” posts. I’ve researched this park thoroughly, to prepare for our own visit, so I figured putting it all into a post might help others as well.

Why not just use the official website?

The official website that covers Sanssouci Park is run by the SPSG which stands for – wait for it – Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg. I don’t even know how to pronounce that, but in English that’s basically “The Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg”. Pretty fancy, right?

The thing is, there are many more Prussian palaces and gardens in this region. There are two more parks in Potsdam with Prussian palaces and gardens. Then there are a few in nearby Brandenburg. Several other historic Prussian edifices are in Berlin itself, including the huge Charlottenburg Palace. The SPSG manages all of these monuments and I’m afraid their website isn’t very clear about which palaces and monuments are actually located in Sanssouci Park and which are elsewhere in Potsdam, or even in Berlin or Brandenburg.

Still, their website is useful! I learned a lot about the park and the various buildings. Whatever information was lacking or confusing, I checked with reviews on various websites. I think I managed to cover all the important spots and get all of the information necessary for visiting Sanssouci Park.

Oh, and I’ve put everything together on a map for you. It shows you where everything is and suggests a walking path between the various palaces.

How to get to Sanssouci Park?

You can stay in Potsdam itself or you can take a day trip from Berlin. Potsdam is on the same train system as Berlin, so a zoned train card that covers zones ABC is good here. S7 line on the S-Bahn will take you from the Berlin Central Station to Potsdam in about 40 minutes from where you take a bus to the park. Google Maps estimates overall travel time to be between one to one and a half hours. Check for the timetable for your own dates and hours.

When to visit Sanssouci Park & Palaces?

The two main palaces of the park- Sanssouci Palace and the New Palace – are open year around, however most of the other palaces and buildings are closed between November and March. During April there are limited opening hours, with some of the places open only on weekends.

Visiting Sanssouci Parks is often about the gardens so it just makes more sense to visit during the spring, summer or early fall, in other words May-September. If you want to really see the gardens in all their glory, June is your best bet.

Mondays is the one day to avoid, if you want to see any of the palaces from the inside. Pretty much everything is closed on that day.

As for the opening hours, the gates to the park itself open at 8AM and close at dusk. Other than that, you need to know that visiting Sanssouci Palace is limited to specific time slots. You will be given your time slot when you purchase your ticket.

How much does it cost to visit Sanssouci Park & Palaces?

It’s free to enter Sanssouci Park grounds. You can stroll around and view the palaces from outside at no charge.

Many of the palaces and buildings in Sanssouci Park offer self-guided tours, guided tours or both. You can actually visit each palace on its own, so I included admission prices for each venu in the list. Prices vary between 3€ for the smaller pavilions to 12.00€ for Sanssouci palace itself.

If you add up the costs of visiting each building, it comes to 56€. Don’t worry – it shouldn’t cost you that much! Fortunately, you can buy a single-day ticket to enter all of palaces and buildings for only 19€. It’s called the Sanssouci+ ticket and it includes your timed slot for entering the Sanssouci palace. Sanssouci+ tickets are available on the SPSG website, but you pay an extra 2€ if you order online. Not only that, but if you buy at the palace and have the Berlin & Potsdam Welcome card, you get 3.80 knocked off the full ticket price.

What to do and see in Sanssouci Park?

I compiled a list of the main attractions and points of interest of the park, along with their respective opening times and ticket prices.

1. Sanssouci Palace – Schloss Sanssouci

Completed in 1747, this was the summer palace of  Frederick the Great during the 18th century. Frederick wanted a laid back relaxed summer house (“Sans Soucci” means “no worries” in French).

Sanssouci Palace is a relatively small, with only 10 principal rooms across a single storey.  It doesn’t lack in grandeur though, with an impressive terraced garden leading up to the palace. Frederick the Great was involved with designing and decorating this palace, to the point that the rich ornate style became known as “Frederician Rococo”.

Sanssouci Palace

Sanssouci palace - closer to the building itself
Sanssouci palace – closer to the building itself

Both guided tours and self-guided audio tours are available. Even if you choose the self-guided tour, your visit will be limited to an allotted time slot (provided when you purchase your ticket).

Opening Hours: May-October 10:00-18:00 / November-April 10:00-17:00 Closed on Mondays (throughout the year).

Admission fees: Price: 12.00 € reduced: 8.00 €

The Palace Kitchen – Schlossküche Sanssouci

The eastern wing of the Sanssouci Palace is where you’ll find the royal kitchen. Today it offers visitors a display of 18th century kitchen utilities, pots, pans and other dishes.

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during May-October. Closed on Mondays. The rest of the year it’s closed.

Admission Fees: Price: 6.00 € reduced: 5.00 €

2. The New Palace – Neues Palais

This huge royal palace was completed in 1769 – still under the reign of Frederick the Great – and became the official grand palace of the Prussian Kingdom. To save the King of Prussia the walk back to Sanssouci (it is a couple of miles, after all!), the 200 rooms of the New Palace include a royal suite. You know, a place to spend the night, including two antechambers, a study, a concert room, a dining salon and a bedroom. He rarely stayed there, by the way.

You can visit the New Palace inside. Don’t miss The Grotto Hall (decorated  with 250,000 sea shells and minerals!), the Marble Hall, the theatre and the King’s apartments. Brace yourselves for a long visit here, especially if you’re into Rococo art.

Inside the New Palace in Sanssouci park

In front of the New Palace you’ll find the Antique Temple (Antikentempel) and the Temple of Friendship (Freundschaftstempel). They are small round structures that are closed to the public.

During the winter season (November-March) you can only visit inside with a guided tour. The rest of the year, you can choose between a self-guided and a guided tour.

Opening Hours: May-October 10:00-18:00 / November-April 10:00-17:00 Closed on Mondays (throughout the year).

Admission fees: Price: 8.00 € reduced: 6.00 €

 3. The Orangery Palace

An Orangery is basically a greenhouse. A room with large glass windows where you can grow exotic plants even during a cold Prussian winter. As it turns out, if you happen to be the King of Prussia, your Orangery could be an entire palace. Completed in 1864, the 300 meters long building actually includes a “regular” palace, as well as the Plant Halls which are the Orangery. The plant halls are still used to store delicate plants during wintertime.

Opening hours: The Orangery Palace is closed between November and March. It opens in April on weekends only (Saturday & Sunday). During May-October, the palace is open daily, except for Monday. Just keep in mind that during weekdays, you’ll have to take the guided tour. On weekends and holidays between May and October, your tour will be self-guided. However, at all other times, you can only enter on a guided tour.

Admission Fees: 4.00 € reduced: 3.00 €

4. The New Chambers – Neue Kammern

Remember how the Sanssouci palace only has about a dozen rooms in it? Obviously, that’s not enough when you have guests coming. So, Frederick the Great added this structure as a guest house. In 1768 he renovated an existing building and turned it into this mini-palace called “the New Chambers” where his guests could relax in fancifully decorated suites, or have a good time in one of the halls.

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during May-October. Closed on Mondays. Closed during the rest of the year.

Admission Fees: Price: 6.00 € reduced: 5.00 €

5. The Picture Gallery – Bildergalerie

To house his huge art collection, Frederick the Great built a picture gallery near his Sanssouci Palace. Today it’s the oldest surviving gallery building in Germany but most of the original art has disappeared during WW2 and the Soviet era.

Some pieces survived, including 140 paintings from the 16th–18th centuries. The most famous one being Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas, but there are also paintings by Anthony van Dyck,  Rubens and others.

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during May-October. Closed on Mondays. The rest of the year it’s closed.

Admission Fees: Price: 6.00 € reduced: 5.00 €

6.The Historic Windmill – Historische Mühle von Sanssouci

Near the Sanssouci Palace, on top of the New Chambers, you’ll find the Historic Windmill. There was an actual mill here since 1738, which apparently Frederick the Great did not appreciate (the noise didn’t go well with his concept of a relaxed palace).The historic windmill at Sanssouci park

The original mill had been since destroyed and replaced by this Dutch-style windmill, visible from a distance and recognized as one of the most famous windmills in Germany. Inside, there’s a display about the history of the windmill (apparently it’s mostly in German).

 

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during April-October. During the month of November, January-March, you can only visit the display on weekends. Closed during December.

7. The Chinese House – Chinesisches Haus

During the 17th century Dutch traders brought Chinese luxury items to Europe and started a new fashion. The oriental silk, porcelain and lacquered furniture appealed to the fans of Rococo style, who came up with a new style: Chinoiserie. The ornate – some would say ostentatious – Chinese House in Sanssouci Park is said to be a good example of the Chinoiserie decorative style. You can view the Chinese House from the outside or get inside to the circular chamber that’s just as richly decorated.

The Chinese House

I couldn’t find the information for opening hours or prices on the Sanssouci website for the Chinese House. Reviewers mentioned a  3 € admission rate, which sounds about right.

8. Charlottenhof Manor – Schloss Charlottenhof

Quite different from the Rococo-ish palaces of Frederick the Great, this small Neoclassical palace, or Schloss, dates back to 1829. The manor’s ten rooms are well preserved and worth a visit. You can also stroll around in the Charlottenhof English gardens.

You have to take a guided-tour if you want to visit inside this mansion.

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during May-October. Closed on Mondays. The rest of the year it’s closed.

Admission fees: Price: 6.00 € reduced: 5.00 € – or as part of the Sanssouci+ ticket

9. The Roman Baths – Römische Bäder

Don’t be mislead by the name: this villa in the southern flank of Park Sanssouci isn’t an authentic Roman Bathhouse. The building was commissioned by King Frederick William IV and built along the same time as the Charlottenhof Manor. There is actually a room with marble baths, though they were never used as anything other than a purely decorative element. The Royal family used the Roman Baths villa as an additional guest house.

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 during May-October. Closed on Mondays. The rest of the year it’s closed.

Admission Fees: Price: 5.00 € reduced: 4.00 €

10. The Church of Peace – Friedenskirche

The Friedenskirche (Church of Peace) was dedicated in 1848, shortly after it was built. It served as the royal chapel as well as the parish church. The architecture is elegant and simple with various classical elements. You can visit the crypt of the church to see the graves of Frederick William IV and his wife Elisabeth Ludovika.

Opening hours: Between May and mid-October the church is open daily during 12:00-18:00 on Sundays, and 10:00-18:00 on other weekdays. Between mid-March and April, hours are 12:00-17:00 on Sundays and 11:00-17:00 on weekdays. The rest of the year the church is only open on Saturdays 11:00-16:00 and Sundays 12:30-16:00.

Admission to the church is free.

11. Belvedere on Klausberg – Belvedere auf dem Klausberg

A lovely building from which the members of the royal court could enjoy the surrounding views. Closed to the public (it only opens on special events).

12. Norman Tower on the Ruinenberg  – Normannischer Turm auf dem Ruinenberg

Even further off the beaten path, north of the Sanssouci Palace is the Ruinenberg site. You’ll find there the ruins of a Norman Tower, a Theatre Wall and the huge pool which used to supply the water to the gardens of Park Sanssouci. You can hike uphill to see them and take in the views of the Sanssouci palace from a unique angle.

Where to eat in Sanssouci Park?

Finally, if you spend an entire day at the park itself, it might make sense to eat there too! There are several options for that.

Near the Sanssouci Palace itself there’s a Movenpick Restaurant where you can have a proper meal or just grab something at the cafe. Still in the park, closer to the New Palace, you can dine at the splendidly named Drachenhous (literally: The Dragon’s House). Both places are a bit pricey and reviews seem to favor the latter option.

Cafe Eden, not far from the Chinese House in the southern part of the park, offers a more simple (and cheaper) experience in a lovely setting. You can have an impromptu picnic on their lawn with an organic sausage or a grilled cheese (or tofu!) sandwich, along with a cold beer or a glass of wine. Coffee, cake and ice cream are also available and the patrons seem happy with the experience.

That’s it!

Oh, one more thing!  The map! You’ll find all of the mentioned points of interest here in this map of Park Sanssouci that I made, including the restaurants. You can click on the icon in the top left corner to see the list of places, or just click each one for more information.

The map includes a suggestion for a walking tour of the grounds. Your time slot for visiting the Sanssouci Palace and any guided tours you may book, are likely to affect that. The walk is 6 kilometer(or 3.2 miles) long, even though it does not include the Belvedere on Klausberg and Ruinenberg. If you need the extra workout, you can certainly add them in as well!

I think we’re all ready for visiting Sanssouci Park! If you’ve already visited, I’d love to hear all about your trip. If you’re planning to go there, let me know what you think of this guide and if there’s anything else you think I should add.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

3 comments

  1. Hi Anne, Very informative blog thank you. The one thing I would suggest to add is parking options, prices and other transport options for getting there (bus, trains, transfers etc)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge